National Cremation Investigation

Report on historic cremation practices published.

The Scottish Government has today published the report from the National Cremation Investigation, led by Dame Elish Angiolini, into circumstances surrounding historic infant cremation practices.

The Investigation, established by the Scottish Government in 2014, was set up to look at individual cases where parents had unanswered questions about the cremation of their baby.

Over 200 cases, across fourteen crematoria, were investigated by Dame Elish and her team.

All those who asked the National Cremation Investigation to look in to their case have received an individual report relevant to their own circumstances.

It follows the Mortonhall Investigation taken forward by Dame Elish on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council and the report from the national Infant Cremation Commission, which made recommendations to reform policies and practices across Scotland.

The Minister for Public Health, Aileen Campbell, today thanked Dame Elish and the National Cremation Investigation for their work and said the Scottish Government would take forward any outstanding actions identified in the report.

Ms Campbell said: “No parent should ever have to go through the pain of not knowing what happened to their child’s ashes.

“But, sadly, this has not been the case for far too many parents in Scotland.

“Some of the historic practices uncovered in this report are unacceptable and, frankly, appalling. It is awful that parents who have lost their child in such sad circumstances have had their grief compounded by the actions of those they trusted to support them.

“While I understand it may be little comfort for those who have been affected in the past, much has changed in Scotland since these issues first came to light.

“We have brought forward legislation to overhaul policy and practice in the burial and cremation industry, introduced a new inspection regime for crematoria and worked to improve staff training, particularly in the NHS.

“I am committed though to driving forward further improvement and we will now work to progress any outstanding actions that have been identified by the Investigation.

“Lastly, I want to thank Dame Elish and echo her words in the report that pay tribute to the great courage and dignity that those parents involved have shown through their participation.

“I hope that the work of the Investigation can bring some form of closure for those parents who have spent too long not knowing what happened to their child’s ashes.

“They may be able to take some comfort from the knowledge that their contribution to these investigations will ensure in the future no parent will ever have to go through this again.”

Notes to editors

The Scottish Government has confirmed it will accept all of the recommendations from the National Cremation Investigation, including:

  • Introduction of a criminal sanction to prohibit the cremation of a nonviable foetus, stillborn baby or infant with an unrelated person.
  • Appointment of inspectors of funeral directors (under powers given to Scottish Ministers in the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act) who will take forward a review of the industry and make recommendations about the introduction of a licensing regime.
  • Work with the National Cremation Committee to supervise the introduction of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act and continue to drive improvement and reform throughout the industry in Scotland.

The full response to the recommendations can be viewed on the Scottish Government website:

The Report of the National Cremation Investigation can be viewed online:

Further information:


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